To Stretch or Not to Stretch?
‘I need to stretch more.’ I get this often when someone is referencing a tight muscle or a body part with limited range of motion.
Sometimes stretching may help, it certainly feels good and I’ve done plenty of it myself, but if you really want range of motion from a body part that you don’t currently have you have to ask yourself why something is tight.
There’s lots of reasons why tightness and restriction occurs but one them is simply weakness. Your body is not apt to trust you in a position of weakness, which makes sense, range of motions you can’t control due to a lack of strength may be susceptible to injury.
Now I hate some of the fear mongering that happens in the fitness industry. If you don’t do this then you will get X injury, etc. I’m not here to tell you that you need to add any special exercises or that your guaranteed to get hurt with muscle tightness.
My solution is simply this:
Keep your same routine, just perform your exercises in a full range of motion that allows you to get stronger while also providing a lengthening effect.
A great example of this is the Romanian Deadlift. Demoed above I’m performing one of the best hinging movements there is to get strong in my glutes, hamstrings and erectors. Every rep I push my hips back until I feel a stretch in my hamstrings and then drive my feet through the floor contracting those muscles to come up.
This allows me to get stronger at long muscle lengths which builds trust between my body and mind allowing me to access greater ranges of motion over time.
You may have to lighten the weights when working into these new ranges but eventually you’ll build back up to your old numbers. A cool side effect of doing this is that training in large ranges of motion is pretty much the best way to grow muscle.
Bigger, Stronger, Bendier? What’s not to love.
As always there’s some nuance here so let me know if you have questions!